Founded in 1990 in Sweden by vocalist and guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt, Opeth specialized in fusing progressive-rock, folk music, and heavy-metal.
Orchid (Candlelight, 1995) cast Akerfeldt's death-metal growling
and Peter Lindgren's epically distorted guitar in roles
(mid-tempo interludes, acoustic melodies, long and tortured songs)
that were not traditionally associated to heavy metal, despite sounding
like heavy metal.
The harsh and experimental
In Mist She Was Standing (14:09) introduced their gift for
frenzied, cyclical electric-guitar melodies suddenly interrupted by an eerie
acoustic passage without detracting from the emotional power;
while their metal credentials were reaffirmed by the supercharged riff and
infernal growl of the simpler Under the Weeping Moon (9:52).
Forest of October (13:04) boasts a comprehensive repertory of riffs
that support its melodramatic atmosphere. A metal-guitar's tour de force,
this piece alone was enough to show the eclectic nature of the band's program.
The guitar toys with variations of a simply melody in
The Twilight Is My Robe (11:03), first delivering it at frenzied pace
(basically an accelerated nursery-rhyme for children) and then decorating it
at midtempo, and finally deconstructing it in the acoustic section
to resemble a baroque sonata.
These two pieces represent Opeth at their best.
The Apostle in Triumph (13:01) restarts from the acoustic-baroque
idea, coupling it with hand percussion, with the metal section following (not
opening), but this time the music is more languid and less imposing.
Morningrise (Candlelight, 1996), their masterpiece, refined that manner.
Opening with a torrid saltarello of death guitar, followed by the predictable
growled leitmotif over frantic grindcore metronomy, the 14-minute Advent
then ventures into uncharted territory: folkish acoustic passages, tempo shifts,
tender vocals (as anti-death as it gets), panzer-like progressions,
Another memorable folkish melody disguised as hyper-metal riffing propels
the initial burst of the ten-minute Nectar, a pretext to dive into
a mini-symphony of agonizing and titanic angst gracefully interrupted by
two acoustic breaks. This piece is the melodic peak of the album.
This hard/soft pattern is occasionally pushed to the extreme.
A sinister looping riff introduces the eleven-minute
The Night and the Silent Water, but the tension is broken twice by a
romantic acoustic interlude, so that the song has literally two centers of
masses that are virtually opposed to each other.
The eleven-minute To bid You Farewell switches the priorities altogether,
even stradding into mellow jazz-rock.
The twenty-minute Black Rose Immortal is a multi-faceted beast:
first yet another death-metal rendering of a martial folkish motif (although
at a slower, quasi-martial pace), then a vastly different acoustic sketch,
then a sequence in which a machine-gun riff and limping rhythm lead to a
majestic guitar melody, then frantic mutating instrumental jamming that leads
to an a-cappella invocation, a reverbed cello-like effect, an acoustic-guitar
pastoral melody, then another titanic riff supporting a (growled) variation
on the main melody, another acoustic pause, and a final maelstrom of screams
and metal guitars.
My Arms Your Hearse (Candlelight, 1998), featuring new
drummer Martin Lopez and Akerfeldt himself on bass,
sounded both more aggressive
and more traditional. It featured some of their
most brutal compositions (April Ethereal, Demon Of The Fall),
but also four brief instrumentals (Prologue, Madrigal, Credence, and Epilogue).
Martin Mendez joined on bass after the album was recorded.
The concept album
Still Life (Peaceville, 1999), about a man banned from his town who
remains faithful till death to his only love, definitely
placated the rage, indulging more than ever in
sophisticated arrangements and dynamics.
The eleven-minute The Moor is a case in point. It begins barely audible.
A (memorable) acoustic-guitar theme emerges. But the growled death-metal theme
that should wipe it out turns out to be half-speed and poppy, and soon
overcome by a choral melody. By their standards the structure is not exactly
The chaotic Godhead's Lament that follows could be an attempt to restore
the prestige of the band, but, again, during the acoustic break both the
timbre of the guitar and the tone of the vocals mimick mainstream pop muzak.
Face of Melinda wastes about half of its running time in a pointless
At least the brief Benighted does not pretend to be death-metal:
it is simply a mellow ballad.
The nine-minute Moonlapse Vertigo resurrects the balance of
Morningrise, but the glittering arrangements detract from its atmosphere.
One gets the feeling that telling the story prevails over the music in songs
such as the nine-minute Serenity Painted Death.
The story, for what it's worth, culminates with the
ten-minute White Cluster (in which the protagonist is hanged but has a vision of his love, who has just been killed herself).
Luckily, Blackwater Park (Music for Nations, 2001) returned to a
more virulent sound. In fact the majestic ten-minute The Leper Affinity
harkens back to Orchid with its insistent, thick guitar attack (despite
the nocturnal piano coda).
The temptation of the mass-market power-ballad is still there, as shown by
the nine-minute Bleak, and the purely non-metal ballad Harvest
winks at the pop market. If nothing else, they both do it better than on
the previous album.
The excess of melodrama in the eleven-minute The Drapery Falls comes
as a welcome relief, because it relies on superb melodies, stylish guitar
interplay and a high-caliber form of post-metal orchestration.
The guitar modulates another powerful melody at the beginning of
the twelve-minute Blackwater Park, and the tension never lets go,
using the pauses as launching pads for ever more fearful attacks while
the growling, droning vocals resonate with the guitar's vibratoes.
Deliverance (Music For Nations, 2002) summed up their art and technique.
Wreath, a majestic eleven-minute gothic fantasia that proceeds from
agonizing doom-metal to fast hard-rock and to quasi-grindcore,
By The Pain I See In Others, a violent and theatrical ten-minute melodrama with a solemn guitar solo and a desperate vocal refrain in between bursts of madness,
and especially Deliverance, a 13-minute tour de force of different
(but smoothly amalgamated) dramatic forms that runs towards a catastrophic
climax, increase the level of musical and emotional complexity;
suspenseful and melodic ten-minute ballad A Fair Judgment represents
the romantic zenith of the album.
Master's Apprentice offers a more conventional death-metal nightmare
(but the second half changes personality twice).
Opeth mellowed down a lot on the symphonic Damnation (Music for Nations, 2003), an album that was "heavy" only on the electronic keyboards and made
of relatively shorter songs. This was the angelic side of Opeth without its
infernal side, the exact alter-ego of Deliverance.
In my Time of Need, which is probably the standout,
Death Whispered a Lullaby,
To Rid the Disease,
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Luca Tapognani) |
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Fondati nel 1990 in Svezia dal cantante e chitarrista Mikael Akerfeldt, gli Opeth si sono specializzati col tempo nel fondere rock progressivo, musica folk e heavy-metal.
In Orchid (Candlelight, 1995) il ringhio death metal di Akerfeldt e l’epica chitarra distorta di Peter Lindgren intraprendono ruoli (mid-tempo, intermezzi acustici, lunghe e tortuose composizioni) che non sono tradizionalmente associati all’heavy metal, malgrado un suono che rimanda direttamente all’heavy metal.
Morningrise (Candlelight, 1996), il loro capolavoro, rifinisce questa caratteristica, soprattutto nella monumetale suite Black Rose Immortal
My Harms Your Hearse (Candlelight, 1998) presenta una nuova sezione ritmica formata dal batterista Martin Lopez e dal bassista Martin Mendez, oltre che a un suono più aggressivo e tradizionale. L’album contiene alcune delle loco composizioni più brutali (April Ethereal, Damon of the Fall)
Still Life (Peaceville, 1999) placca momentaneamente la rabbia per concedersi maggiormente in dinamiche e arrangiamenti sofisticati, soprattutto negli 11 minuti di The Moor, l’atmosferica Moonlapse vertigo e la maestosa Face of Melinda.
Blackwater Park (Music for Nations, 2001) aggiunge Blackwater Park, Bleak, The Drapery Falls ai canoni del gruppo, riuscendo a raggiungere un pubblico più vasto.
Deliverance (Music For Nations, 2002) riassume l’arte e la tecnica degli Opeth con le imponenti strutture di Wreath e Deliverance, mentre altrove incrementa l’impatto emozionale con le romantiche Fair Judgment and By The Pain I See In Others.
Gli Opeth ammorbidiscono i toni nel sinfonico, interlocutorio, Damnation (Music For Nation, 2003) un album dalle tastiere marcate e composto da canzoni relativamente brevi: Window Pane, In My Time of Need (probabilmente la migliore), Death whispered a Lullaby, Closure, Hope Leaves, To Rid the Disease, la strumentale Ending Credits, Weakness.